If the heat of a musical performance could be measured by some objective means--using a kind of musical thermometer--the reading for George Pehlivanian's account of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre would be a good 150 Fahrenheit.
The young conductor certainly worked up quite a sweat Saturday evening, jumping and jabbing in order to coax 65 members of the American Youth Symphony to bring the familiar work as much fire and as much volume as they could muster.
But loudness is not the same as intensity. Pehlivanian made every fortissimo sound the same, while failing to imbue the soft passages with any sense of tension, making it impossible for the listener to perceive any unfolding drama. Moreover, technical imperfections continually dogged this reading.
Before intermission, Pehlivanian led the orchestra in Richard Yardumian's Chorale Prelude "Ee Kerezman" (Resurrection). Readily accessible, orchestrationally conventional and harmonically tame, the 10-minute modal composition proved disappointing.
The former AYS concertmaster had been scheduled to perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, but reportedly had developed tendinitis. Instead, violin in hand, he led his former colleagues in a muscular, unsubtle account of Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik."